For the same reason we delight in Edward Gorey’s macabre drawings, we are drawn to the exquisite lines and playful forms of Anne Wilson’s sculptural textiles. For one more day, viewers can experience her work firsthand in Ann Wilson: Unfoldings, on view at the Bakalar Gallery of the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. The exhibition features work from the past decade, including the Topologies installation - a monumental work constructed entirely of black thread and repurposed lace - that was shown in an abbreviated form at the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Here, the textile artist is given ample room to install her provocative and slightly unnerving objects. Wilson alters and embellishes traditional linens with human hair, painstakingly sewing strands into the weave of fine napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases, and remnants of clothing. One expansive work, A Chronicle of Days, assembles 100 fragments of period damask, each piece individually altered with interwoven hair. The luminous white fragments read like journal entries, chronicling variations in mood and temperament: some pieces display hair that is knotted into a dark, tangled frenzy, some present long strands splayed across the fabric like an underwater creature, some bristle with a coarse weave of hair, and others are delicately knotted like a necklace. The handling and mingling of such sensuous materials is mesmerizing, lending a strong emotional component to otherwise ordinary household items. Wilson’s deft fusion of textiles and hair offers a wry exploration of domestic rituals and decorum, physical labor, sexuality and death. Through November 16.

- Diana Gaston [Friday, November 15th, 2002]


From the editors